We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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We had a visit this past weekend from a friend of mine from high school who got a Ph.D in Botany and than decided he would rather farm and now has a CSA in Wisconsin. His visit gave us much to think about. He runs his farm very differently than we do. He has over 60 acres, 300 members and he has over 5 tractors. Oh yeah, and he is in a CSA Mecca-Minneapolis which is about 20 years ahead of us as far as local foods issues and markets are concerned. Yeah, SW Ohio is a really bad place to establish a CSA and of all places in SW Ohio, Preble county has the to be worst place within SW Ohio to do anything concerning Organic agriculture and especially a CSA. But things are changing around here and it is much easier to make a living doing what we do in this area than it was 17 years ago.
His visit got us to thinking about many things. Like how different CSAs are, no two are alike. For example my friend's CSA up north employs a lot of interns and uses a lot of machinery. We have in the past and will in the future take on an intern or two but not the 15+ people he has. Of course he grows on 18 acres and we grow on 4.5 acres so he does indeed need more people and I believe the teaching aspect that many CSA has is more important to him than it is to us (he was going to be a college professor when he grew up before farming derailed that idea) and so he is willing to work with newbies than we are. he is also a lot more into machines than we do. He spent a lot of our limited time together going on about his various tractors, tillers and attachments. All those machines means he uses a lot more gasoline than we do. We used around 30 gallons of gasoline last year to till, plow and mow our estate. Had we had a tractor, we would have used 5x as much (and if we has a fleet of tractors we would have even more). The van we use to get food to the Oxford Market used 300 gallons of gasoline just to go to Oxford (about 32 miles round trip) and back about 35 times plus a few trips over to the Filbruns (17 miles round trip) for straw and other soil building items (we plan to replace the van with something newer and with better milage in the next few months-if you know of a cargo van that is less than 10 years old for sale let us know we are looking). And this is one of the reasons we don't do delivery-we cannot afford it with the vehicle we have to use. It uses a lot of gas and is getting less reliable as it gets older and if we don't replace it it will get really expensive as major parts start to fail. It would be wonderful if we could replace this van with an electric van but, if they even make them, I am sure they would be way out of our price range (but we can dream). But the point I am making here is, as a farm we use very little gasoline and this will stead us well in the coming months and years as gas likely will go up to $6 a gallon and that is a point where farmers who depend on gas powered machines to do the work will see a huge cut to their bottom lines if they cannot raise their prices. Us, we won't suffer nearly as much as the machine scale farms because we use far more human power than gas power to get things done around here.
Okay lets talk about rain. We are getting way too much if you haven't noticed. Our main growing area is very, very well drained but even it is going under water because until the Ohio river starts to discharge it's load of water, there simply is no place for all this water to go. So far we have not noticed any damage but there is sure to be some crops that rots and dies due to too much water. Freshly seeded beds will be the first to go (but fortunately are the easiest to remedy-just replant the seeds when conditions are better). Other than harvesting and putting down compost and sulfur on beds, we have not been doing much farming due to the weather and we are beginning to get behind. The weeds are growing well and soon will be a problem. I have been trying to finger weed a spring mix bed (where one pulls tiny weeds from between densely planted lettuce plants-takes hours to do but is important to the quality of the salad mix). But it has been so wet that it is nearly impossible to do the job. Yesterday I was able to get about 10 feet of row done on one bed (and there are several other beds of baby greens plus hundreds of other beds waiting for a hoe). Eugene tried to plant onion seedlings but he said it was too wet to do the job (the clay mud gums up one's hands so quickly so that you spend a lot more time wiping the mud off than doing work) So he decided to mow the grass around the pond and while doing so found we have lawn morels (see the Boulder Belt Blog or my Facebook page for photos). I had hoped we would have enough to include some in your shares but our lawn did not yield nearly that well. I will say, go out and look for some morels. This is the best season for them in many many years. I remember as a kid living in the Mile Square of Oxford we had 15 morels come up in the back yard near a pine tree. That has not happened since, that I know of. And I do know it has been at least 8 years since we have found any (or eaten any). For some photos of my mushroom harvest take a gander here http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com/2011/04/lawn-morels.html.
Pick up is after 4 pm today.
We reuse and recycle and that means we will take any CLEAN plastic or paper you do not want. Plus we want back all of our packaging from rubber bands to bags (unless you have a use for these things, than keep them but if all you are gonna do is land fill them than bring them back to the farm)
Thanks for supplying bags for your shares. I believe at this point all but one member has supplied bags, Yay!
While I know the weather is less than conducive for this, please feel free to walk about the farm, go fishing, help us in the fields. in other words make use of this resource you have access to. Very few people ever get to visit a working farm and here you have free access to one. If nothing else, the bird watching has been great the past few days as we have several types of herons visiting our pond (I suppose for the frogs) as well as red winged black birds, finches, jays, several kinds of woodpeckers (including red headed and piliated)
Spring Veggie Curry
1 leek sliced
Many spears of asparagus cut into 2" pieces
2 cups snow or sugar snap peas, string and cut in half
1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium onion, chopped
2+TBL fresh parsley chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup garlic chives, chopped (this is for garnish)
1 TBL fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1+ cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
1 cup coconut cream/milk (you can buy this pre-made or you can make it from unsweetened coconut flakes by soaking the flakes in hot water for a while and than putting in a blender than straining off the flakes leaving you with a coconutty liquid. The pre-made stuff is better but this is a cheap substitute that works well enough)
1 T curry powder (or more or less, to taste)
1 TBL olive oil (or other fat)
Salt to taste
Basmati rice (I love brown basmati but white will certainly do)
Start the rice than in a hot pan (over medium heat) put in the fat than the leek and onion and let cook about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables (except the garlic chives and parsley) and cook another couple of minutes stirring occasionally to prevent burning/sticking. Than add the coconut cream and curry powder and bring to a simmer stirring constantly. Turn down heat to medium low and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add the parsley about ten minutes into this and continue cooking. Serve over rice and this is even better if you have a decent chutney and yogurt raita (but plain yogurt works well too). If you have morels, they would be spectacular in this dish.
What's in This Weeks' Share
Asparagus- At this point in time it looks like you will get about 1/2 pound. But we still have to harvest more before this afternoon so the amount might just double
Lettuce- You should get 3 to 4 heads of a mix of red and green lettuces (The green is called Salad bowl, I have no idea what the red is called but it is spectacular)
Leeks- You get one leek
Garlic- You get 4+ corms of garlic. This is on its' last legs as it is almost a year old but there are still good cloves in most corms.
Kale- At least 1/2 pound of mixed kale
Radish- A small bunch of D'Avignon radishes
Parsley-a bag of fresh parsley
Tarragon- A small bag of French Tarragon
Chives-A nice bunch of oniony chives
Garlic Chives-A bunch of garlic chives (flat leafed)
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:32 AM EDT
Well it's been a much better week. The herbicided plants have, for the most part recovered. I think we will lose some snow peas but not an entire bed and since snow peas tend to over produce this may be a good thing, meaning you won't in a few weeks start getting up to 5 pounds a week of the things in your share. The tiller works again. It had a nasty air filter which needed to be replaced. This is not an easy thing to do as they quit making parts for the engine on our tiller about 10 years ago. But Eugene found a Fram auto filter that was the same thickness at Auto Zone and with scissors and duct tape fashioned a new filter for the tiller for under $4 (I have a feeling the correct filter would run around $30 + shipping as BCS parts tend to be expensive because they are Italian). The tiller being fixed meant yesterday the last 10 potato beds were tilled and trenched this can be done by hand but it takes about 5x more time and is grueling. And frankly, what we do is grueling enough with the aid of some power equipment.
The other good thing is, crop wise, we are steaming into summer. This means a greater and greater variety of crops in your share from here on out. This week we add scallions, two kinds of green beans (these are early, normally beans come in at the end of June), Sugar Snap peas and some of you will get the first of the cukes (if you find kale in your share than don't expect cucumbers-the patch has only produce 4 or 5. By next week there should be plenty for all). These are Alpha Biet cucumbers (AKA Armenian) and a very nice sweet cucumber. First time we have grown them. Later on we will have 3 or 4 other varieties of cukes. Gone for the year are asparagus, lettuce (okay this might reappear if the late bed we planted actually works but if it gets hot again I don't think it will do much)
The bad thing is all this rain. We are beginning to have problems with crops in the badly drained areas (fortunately, most of the top field drains very well). We have lost 1/2 bed of arugula. The good thing is arugula in this kind of weather grows abundantly so a half bed should be more than enough for the FSI, store and farmers market. Still the wet part of that bed was sad, no arugula, no weeds, no nothing. The good thing is it made hoeing it out fairly easy yesterday. We are also losing some early potatoes (but the bulk are doing fantastic) and I see some kale is getting sick, all in the northern most beds. Oh well, soon enough we will probably be in dry conditions. I hope so, as we can always irrigate to keep crops going but when we get too much rain we can do little for crops rotting from being too wet much less be able to hoe or open new ground because you should never ever work wet soil (when dry, it resembles chunks of cement).
Okay, the shares will be ready after 4pm today and will be in the front fridge as usual. Since I felt last week's shares were a bit light expect more this week. If you wish to walk around the farm (yeah, right, in the rain) feel free to do so. Simply walk between the barn and the store and go through the gate on the right (be sure to close after you go in or the dogs could get out on the highway. The dogs are very friendly BTW).
Oven Roasted Green Beans
Pre-heat your oven to 450°F
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and use hands to toss green beans to coat the evenly with the oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat. Distribute in one even layer. Roast 10 minutes.
Remove baking sheet and redistributed beans. Put back in oven and continue baking 10-12 minutes until the beans are dark golden brown in spots and have started to shrivel.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
What's in the Share
Sugar Snap Peas-1 pound
Cukes (or kale)-either 1 cuke or 1/2 pound kale
Zucchini-about 1/2 pound of Zephyr zucchini
Radishes-a bag of easter egg or French breakfast radishes
Scallions-a bunch of scallions
Cilantro-a 1/4 pound bag of cilantro. This is good with mexican dishes and is really good with Macaroni and cheese
Red Turnips-1 pound
Garlic scapes-1/2 pound
Haricot Verts (French Green beans)-1 pound. These are the skinny beans. Cook no more than 10 minutes, if steaming.
Black Valentine beans-1 pound. These are the fatter beans. Steam for 14 minutes
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:24 PM EDT
Greetings Farm Share Members
It is week 23 for some of you and week 2 for others-it's a crazy farm share program we run. Almost no one else in the country will let new members in monthly. That makes us special. But it also makes it very hard to plan out the market garden for the farm share when we do not have a head count of members for the season. I do realize it makes it (somewhat more) convenient for members to be able to drop in and out of the farm share but I am finding that there is an inherent unfairness for the members that paid for a full season (or partial season). The full season members are taking the full risk of being a farm share member. If they go out of town they do not get to make up their missed week(s), for example. So things will change next year. I have not hammered out how they will change other than full season members will get a discount and I don't believe there will be a monthly option. I think monthly option will change to seasonal option where I split the season into 3 or 4 sections and people have the choice of either buying a full season share or a 2 or 3 month seasonal share. Full season people will have the option of a payment plan. seasonal members will have to pay in full. I will likely keep the cost about the same as this year. This is just a heads up for all you members who are planning on joining us in 2010.
Oh and don't forget we will be doing a Winter Share. There are still about 9 spaces left for that. Here are the details:
We will do on farm pick up twice a month, cost will be $100 a month ($50 a share). The shares will be larger than a summer share and will mainly be food that can store for months like taters, winter squash, onions, carrots, parsnips, a few canned goods, garlic, pears, dried herbs, leeks, etc.. If the weather is good to us, leafy greens (arugula, kale, spring mix, lettuce) and other things from the hoop houses will also be included throughout the season (we will certainly have them the first 2 or 3 pick-ups). This will start Wednesday November 11 and go through Wednesday January 20 for 3 months/6 pick-ups. Unlike the summer shares, we require people to pay the $300 for the entire winter share upfront, no month to month shares. We will have 12 shares available this year.
I was going to write bout how dry the farm is getting and if we don't get rain soon the yields will start dropping a lot and the fall stuff will be spotty. But we got over 2" of rain Monday and the market garden is much much happier. This means no more hand watering-literally taking 2 gallon watering cans out to the newly seeded beds and watering the seeds to get germination. Just like home gardeners do, only our garden is around 100x bigger. As I have mentioned in earlier newsletters, we do use drip irrigation but drip irrigation will not do for starting seeds. It cannot get the soil surface damp enough to ensure good germination. So we are forced to water by hand if it is dry.
As I mentioned, it rained and as long as it doesn't continue to rain non stop through the rest of the month we will be in great shape. If it decides to rain the rest of the month it will be tricky, if not impossible to get beds tilled for the rest of the late fall and winter crops (and even early spring crops like spinach) and seeds planted in the ground. I do not see that happening as September is our driest month of the year. Not to mention we have about 70% of these crops in the ground. So far for fall, we have planted arugula, spring mix, beets, green beans, carrots, radishes, red turnips, fall maters, fall zucchini, fall cukes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, kale, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, daikon, and likely some other things. Plus we are harvesting a lot of winter squashes (butternut, delicata, acorn, etc..) and soon will be harvesting popcorn, parsnips, celeriac, celery for late summer through winter use. this week you will start to see the winter squashes, and while we do have hundreds harvested most still need to cure for another 3 to 4 weeks before they will be ready to eat. An uncured winter squash has no sugar development so the flavors tend to be dull and a bit off. But wait 3 to 5 weeks and that same squash will be fabulous.
What I want you all to come away with from reading this is just because the "Official" close to summer has happened i.e. Labor Day. This does not mean that us farmers and our farms have suddenly stopped producing. No, and in fact, fall is the best time of year for produce as it all comes in-both cold and warm weather items from mid September until frost when we lose the summer crops like tomatoes and peppers. It is a shame that a lot of non farmer managed/run farmers market close down after Labor Day as this just reinforces this myth on the non farmers of our country. But one of the things we at Boulder Belt Eco-Farm do is educate the general public on the fact that CSA's, Farm Stands and Farmers Markets (if they are still open) are at their best from now through frost. That there is a lot more going on than Corn mazes, Indian corn and pumpkins. That now is the time to buy in bulk so you can put up food for winter
Hey! There is a pot luck dinner/farm tour coming up Sept 20th. That is a Sunday. Please RSVP yes or no ASAP. We will be preparing roasted chicken that we raised for the meal (I can promise you that you will never have a better chicken). We may also offer some home brewed beer and home made wine to drink along with distilled water (this is very pure and excellent). You bring a dish that can feed 6+ people plus things to eat from (plates, cups, flatware). Meet at the store around 6ish and we will do a walk about around the market garden and explain what we do and take any and all questions, than we will eat like royalty.
No recipe this week, sorry.
What's in the Share
Tomatoes-several kinds of heirlooms and a mix of cherry maters. probably around 5 pounds, maybe a more, maybe less. The big reds are GL-18, the pale yellow are great White (one of our favorites), the big round yellow orange fruits are Sun ray, the orange not so round and flatter fruits are Dr. Wyche's yellow, the small greens are green grape (excellent taste, don't let the color put you off), the smallish browns (black, actually) are Nyagous, the smallish reds are a saladette and some should be Green Zebra but are not. The more oblong big reds are Amish paste and excellent for canning, making salsa or fresh tomato sauce
Kale-a nice bag of White russian kale. this is a brand new bed of kale that needs thinning badly so you will get baby to adolescent kale. this should be tender and yummy
Scallions-a bunch on big scallions. I notice when i slice these they make me cry and yet the scallions themselves are not hot at all, despite being huge and about ready to split into 3 or more little scallions. Scallions, unlike green onions, never make a bulb. they instead divide into several new plants. green Onions, on the other hand are actual onions and if left in the ground will make a bulb and eventually the greens will die back.
Basil-a big bag of basil for using fresh or drying or freezing (see http://www.localharvest.org/blog/330 for old newsletters that tell you how to do these things if you are new or missed that week)
Leeks-a couple of lincoln leeks. These are good fresh or cooked.
Raspberries-2 boxes of berries. These are getting sweeter as the days get shorter.
Pears-heirloom Keiffer pears. These are hard and green but quite sweet and edible. If you want them a bit softer (they never get really soft until they start to rot) put them in a paper bag and wait a week and they should get a lot riper.
Peppers-still green and purple peppers but you may get one close to all ripe this week. Next week you will certainly start to see ripe peppers in your share as the peppers are beginning to turn from green (or purple) to red, yellow and orange. ripe peppers are sweeter and higher in Vitamin C and other nutrients than green. They are also a lot harder to raise as it is in the last 3 weeks of ripening that all the pests and diseases attack the peppers. This is why ripe peppers cost twice as much as green peppers at the market
Acorn squash-the first of the winter squashes. You get 2 medium or 3 small ones. We harvested these about 3 weeks ago so they should be perfect. To prepare cut in half, remove the seeds (which are excellent roasted, like pumpkin seeds so don't throw them out!). place flesh side down on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 350F oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Slather with butter and honey and you have a real treat.
Garlic-3 corms of garlic
Ailsa Craig onion-a pound of so of sweet onions
Potatoes-a couple of pounds of a mix of potatoes. likely White, red and Yukon golds though you may find some fingerlings this week.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 02:07 PM EDT
We have reached mid June and true summer. The long days mean that the onions are growing at an explosive rate. The bulbs just about double in size daily (right now that does not mean much as they are just beginning to form bulbs but in about a week it will be really noticeable). we have pulled all the garlic scapes, or about all, there are always a few we miss no matter how many times we check, this means you will soon get fresh garlic in your share, by soon I mean next week. You should get raspberries next week as well. I though last year was a bumper crop but it looks like this year will easily out pace the 26 gallons of berries we picked last year. The plants are much larger and the stand is denser and they are loaded with ripening berries and flowers that are abuzz with pollenators. We have picked a scant few and they are fabulous!
Along with the 15+ hour days we have started getting good amounts of rain. Over 2 inches have fallen in the past 3 days (including the 1/2 inch that fell while AccuWeather told me we had less than a 3% chance of any rain at that time of day. I wish we could bet on this rain forecasting because I would have taken those odds.). All this means a lot of happy crops. The tomatoes we finished transplanting last week are growing really well. Some have grown about 6" in a week. the tomatoes we put out in April have green maters that look like they should start to ripen soon. We will start the tomato season with a yellow mater called Yellow Taxi, soon after will come the sublime red heirloom, Matina (this is seriously one of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten), than the orange cherry tomato, Sunsugar and another red heirloom, GL-18. I believe these will be ready in early July. The potatoes are flowering and huge. The beets are about a week from readiness. The scallions should be ready in about 2 weeks. Oh and the pea crop is coming in. We have loads of snow peas and soon will have loads of sugar snap peas as the second planting is what we are beginning to harvest from and this planting is bigger and the plants a lot more fruitful as they were planted in a warmer time than the first peas. We won't have shelling peas for another week. They are setting a lot of pods but the pods need a bit more time to fill up with peas.
We are leaving the planting period and going into the heavy duty harvest period. I figure by this time next week I will be spending about 6 hours a day harvesting raspberries, strawberries and peas. 3 days a week there will additional things to harvest for the farm share initiative and the Saturday farmers market in Oxford. I am not looking forward to the raspberry picking as that will fill most of the harvest day. I know last year there were a couple of days where both Eugene and I were out there together for 4 hours-that would be an 8 hour picking for one person. But the upside is raspberries are one of our more profitable crops and yummy.
This weekend there is a pot luck on Sunday at 6pm. I need to know if you are coming or not (i.e RSVP). Bring a dish to share, things to eat from and with. We will set up a grill and I plan on getting some local beef, probably from Salem Road farm (not organic but grass fed). Let me know no later than Friday if you are attending or not. The last farm tour pot luck was wonderful.RecipeSquash Lyonnaise
1 LB zucchini or summer squash
1 med to large onion
1 TBL Butter
Salt to taste
Slice squash into 1/4 inch slices, do the same with the onions. In a hot sauté pan melt the butter than add the onions, squash and salt. Cook over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until squash is softIn your share this week:Chard
-The first chard harvest of the year. Actually these are the thinnings-the chard needs space and you get to eat the results. If you are new to chard cook it like you would spinach.Kale
-You get a nice bag of kale this week. kale is one of the most nutritious foods we growRed Turnips
-more turnips with greens. These can be boiled and mashed like potatoes only these will come out a pretty pink.
Snow peas-you will get a lot of snow peas this week, perhaps over a pound. These need to be strung and are best eaten raw. A very nice snack.
Sugar snap peas-you won't get as many snap peas as you do snow peas this week. Like the snow peas these need to be strung. these are good cooked or raw.Zucchini
-a couple of medium to small zephyr zucchinis. I think this may be the last week for zucchini for several weeks. the crop from which we have been harvesting is just about done and the next zukes have not yet started to flower and it will be a couple of weeks after the flowers start before there is anything to harvest.Strawberries
-They're baaack, and sweeter than ever.Cilantro
-a nice bag of cilantroGarlic scapes
-another 1/2 pound of scapesChives
-I cut back the chives about 2 weeks ago to get rid of the fading flowers and tough stems. now they are ready to harvest again, without the flowers.
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:19 PM EDT
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